Thanks to another Toronto Catholic blogger, Vox Cantoris I read an interesting critique about the Earth Hour. It’s in the National Post. I guess I am partial to this point of view as I don’t really get the purpose… besides symbolic. However the social pressure to comply is great. It irks me. In a similar way I found myself, several times today, defending the Pope’s comments on condoms. The Pope’s comments on the plane, perhaps not savvy from a PR point of view… are in fact true. If women in some part of Africa are being abused and forced into dangerous sex… well of course a condom would help stop the transmission of HIV. The Pope certainly understands that. But what the Pope is asking… correctly... is why are women being put into that situation in the first place? Condoms are not the real issue. But when you say that condoms are not the solution… people look at you funny like you’re from another planet. I get the same look from people when I ask why we are turning our lights off for Earth Hour? They look at me as if I hate the planet and want to kill baby seals. But honestly, I don’t get the Earth Hour thing… besides being about PR. I really believe in good PR.. but I also believe in substance. Where’s the beef? Oops sorry… “Where’s the tofu!”
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The image above is from The Anchoress.
At Masses where R.C.I.A. catechumens are present, today's Gospel reading will be the powerful account of the raising of Lazarus. For that passage, visit my 2008 post for this Sunday.
At other Masses, the Gospel will be a discourse of Christ exploring His role in salvation history.
From John Chapter 12:
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.
"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."
Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again."
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself."
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
A Concord Pastor has a good homily on this Gospel.
And, here is a video reflection on the passage:
Saturday, March 28, 2009
It's a powerful bit of oratory (albeit a rather rude way to address the head of one's government in an international forum):
FYI #1: Daniel Hannan's blog. (He's got a snarky writing style to match his oratory.)
FYI #2: The European Parliament (I don't know much about it. Do you?). Apparently, they have business casual days.
Hat-tip: The Anchoress who came to it from Gerald Warner. Sully had a related post, too.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Here she is with Cyndi Lauper's 1984 hit "Time After Time." (I actually think it's a good song for Lent if you think about the lyrics in a spiritual context.)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
If catechumens were not present, the Gospel reading was a discourse of Christ from John Chapter 3, including the well-known verse John 3:16.
As my parish did have two catechumens present, the Gospel at Mass we heard was the account of "the man born blind."
From John Chapter 9:
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is," but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,“You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”
He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind."
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
A song for the day:
"...was blind but now I see":
Friday, March 20, 2009
I'm sorry to say that my annual spring cold/allergy thing has kept me from following the "Apostolic Journey to Cameroon and Angola" as closely as I would like.
But, the National Catholic Reporter's John Allen -- one of the best journalists on any beat -- today provided a report called "Benedict in Cameroon, a Tale of Two Trips." It should be required reading for anyone interested in commenting on the visit.
Some key graphs:
... I don't think I've ever covered a papal trip where the gap between internal and external perceptions has been as vast as over these three days.
It's almost as if the pope has made two separate visits to Cameroon: the one reported internationally and the one Africans actually experienced.
In the U.S. and many other parts of the world, coverage has been "all condoms, all the time," triggered by comments from Benedict aboard the papal plane to the effect that condoms aren't the right way to fight AIDS. In Africa, meanwhile, the trip has been a hit, beginning with Benedict's dramatic insistence that Christians must never be silent in the face of "corruption and abuses of power," and extending through a remarkable meeting with African Muslims in which the pope said more clearly and succinctly what he wanted to say three years ago in his infamous Regensburg address, and without the gratuitous quotation from a Byzantine emperor.
Norah Jones flashbacks: "Come Away With Me" (Feb. '08) and "Don't Know Why" (Jan. '08).
My appreciation for "The Tennessee Waltz" stems largely from the final scene of the 1998 movie "Primary Colors."
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Monsignor Hardiman, the pastor of St. Sebastian Church in the Woodside section of Queens, found this good image to illustrate the day:
From Monsignor Hardiman:
John Collier is one of my favorite contemporary artists. Consider this wonderful painting of Joseph and the young Jesus. It can really help you, as it did and does me, to begin to get my head around the real people that they were. What elements do you see in the painting that draw your particular interest and contemplation?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Steelers owner Dan Rooney (pictured above) was given the official nod by President Obama to be the next U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
From Ed Bouchette's article in the Post-Gazette:
The image above is from the P-G.
Dan Rooney will soon earn the official title, yet he's always been an Irish ambassador with his Steelers and throughout the NFL. He's long been known as the league's voice of reason and conscience and, when it appeared war would break out or did between the league's players and owners, a man of peace.
Ireland may be gaining an ambassador, but the Steelers and the NFL are losing football royalty, a Hall of Famer and son of the franchise's founder who put personal integrity above all else while operating his team and dealing with its people.
His absence will be felt in Pittsburgh and across the NFL, where labor war clouds again are gathering. His son, Art Rooney II, succeeded his father as Steelers president in 2002, and the public will discern few changes in the way the team is operated, partly because Art has run the daily operations of the team anyway. And Art's chief adviser, his father, will remain only a phone call away in Dublin.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
It is therefore with the pride of an Irishman that I pray you have a very blessed St. Patrick's Day!
For the Old Irish Blessing, please see my St. Patrick's Day posts in 2007 and 2008.
If you desire to skip the green beer today, be sure to read Mike's Busted Halo piece called "Five Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Without Getting a Hangover."
And ... a bit o' speculation ... could Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney be the next U.S. ambassador to Ireland?
Monday, March 16, 2009
Salena Zito has the scoop:
Republican state Attorney General Tom Corbett today filed paperwork to establish an exploratory committee to run for governor in 2010.Tom has supported me. I certainly support him. Flashback: A chilly autumn morning in Burgettstown, 2006.
Corbett, 59, of Shaler is expected to hold an evening conference call with key Republicans and state committee members to discuss his plans.
Corbett decided to run after talking with people across the state, party leaders and his family, said spokesman John Brabender.
Hat-tip: Joe Murzyn
Seattle Post-Intelligencer to publish last edition Tuesday
Anyone who cares about newspapers will want to read the entire post.
But, here's one important quote:
Print media does much of society’s heavy journalistic lifting, from flooding the zone — covering every angle of a huge story — to the daily grind of attending the City Council meeting, just in case. This coverage creates benefits even for people who aren’t newspaper readers, because the work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to District Attorneys to talk radio hosts to bloggers. The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model. So who covers all that news if some significant fraction of the currently employed newspaper people lose their jobs?
Sunday, March 15, 2009
From John Chapter 4:
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her, "Go call your husband and come back."
Jesus said to her, "Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth."
At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, "What are you looking for?" or "Why are you talking with her?"
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me everything I have done."
Deacon Greg and A Concord Pastor have posted their homilies for this Sunday.
Flashback: Third Sunday, Lent '08
The image above is from here.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
From Ann Rodgers' report in the Post-Gazette:
Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will hold a prayer service April 7 to apologize to anyone who has ever been hurt by someone acting in the name of the Catholic Church.
"If you have been harmed by the church in any way, I invite you to come. There will be nothing expected of you but your willingness to pray with me. No one will bother you," Bishop Zubik wrote in his column in the Pittsburgh Catholic. The service will be held at 7 p.m. in St. Paul Cathedral on Tuesday of Holy Week.
Although most publicity about people hurt in the Catholic Church has centered on those who suffered sexual abuse, many other concerns also will be addressed in the prayer service. Bishop Zubik's column mentioned people who have been spoken to harshly by church leaders, who felt they were unjustly let go from a church position or felt picked on by a teacher in a religious education class.
He spoke of a man who approached him recently who was upset that the bishop had not responded to a letter he had written.
"I had no recollection of the matter nor any recollection that the letter ever arrived. But that really didn't matter as much as the fact that the writer was hurt. He felt ignored, even rejected," the bishop wrote.
"Unfortunately, I am sure there were times where my actions or words were the cause of hurt."
Friday, March 13, 2009
Flashback: "People Get Ready," Advent, 2007
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The bad news:
On this topic, a few days back, I mentioned my fears for the Observer-Reporter of Washington, PA. This article reminded me to also be concerned for the future of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (sample front page above).
... some economists and newspaper executives say it is only a matter of time — and probably not much time at that — before some major American city is left with no prominent local newspaper at all. ...
For more than two centuries, newspapers have been the indispensable source of public information and a check on the abuses of government and other powerful interests. And they still reach a vast and growing audience. Daily print circulation has dropped from a peak of 62 million two decades ago to around 49 million, and online readership has risen faster, to almost 75 million Americans and 3.7 billion page views in January, according to Nielsen Online.
But no one yet has unlocked the puzzle of supporting a large newsroom purely on digital revenue, a fact that may presage an era of news organizations that are smaller, weaker and less able to fulfill their traditional function as the nation’s watchdog.
“I can’t imagine what civil society would be like,” said Buzz Woolley, a wealthy San Diego businessman who has been a vocal critic of the paper there, The Union-Tribune, and the primary backer of an Internet news site, VoiceofSanDiego.org. “I don’t want to imagine it. A huge amount of information would just never get out.”
I've quoted Douthat (pictured above) a few times in this space, most recently in regard to "The Flying Spaghetti Monster."
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Non-Catholics: Have you ever wondered what Catholics do during Confession?
The good people at Busted Halo have some answers for you in this these two videos:
Monday, March 09, 2009
I'm sad to say I can't do the same for my one-time employer of fond memory, the Observer-Reporter of Washington, PA. I'm especially concerned for how that old county daily is faring during this economic crisis. I visit the O-R Website everyday to keep up with the home front. If the O-R ever ceased to print, it would be a very serious blow to the economy, political life and community life of Washington and Greene counties in Pennsylvania.
In "The Media Equation" column of today's NYT Business section, David Carr writes about the troubled newspaper industry.
Back when I was a young media reporter fueled by indignation and suspicion, I often pictured the dark overlords of the newspaper industry gathering at a secret location to collude over cigars and Cognac, deciding how to set prices and the news agenda at the same time.
It probably never happened, but now that I fear for the future of the world that they made, I’m hoping that meeting takes place. I’ll even buy the cigars.
Even casual followers of the newspaper industry could rattle off the doomsday tick-tock: a digitally enabled free fall in ads and audience now has burly guys circling major daily newspapers with plywood and nail guns. The Rocky Mountain News is gone, The San Francisco Chronicle is on the bubble, and dozens of others are limping along on the endangered list.
Magazine and newspaper editors have canceled their annual conferences (good idea: let’s not talk to one another). But perhaps someone can blow a secret whistle and the publishers and editors could all meet at an undisclosed location.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Deacon Greg has an excellent homily for this Sunday.
The image above is from here.
Friday, March 06, 2009
I also like this version with Jason Mraz and a young woman (identified as "Clara" in Paris):
And, I'd be remiss if I did not mention this cover version of "Lucky" that (as of this writing) has been viewed more than 1.6 million (!) times on YouTube:
This is the fourth time that Jason Mraz has been featured in the "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."
Flashbacks: "Bella Luna" (Jan. '08), "The Rainbow Connection" (Feb. '08) and "I'm Yours" (April '08).
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I cannot provide a truly thorough summary as I spent most of the L.A. REC helping to staff an exhibitor booth. I did not have the time to attend any of the sessions or workshops. This year's keynote speaker was Jim Wallis, the editor of Sojourners and a "liberal" or "progressive" evangelical to be sure.
Monsignor East was engaging, humorous and appropriately solemn -- all at the right moments. In his memorable homily, he spoke of efforts to invite lapsed Catholics back to Church. He also spoke of how we prepare for Christ -- doing so after stirring thought by singing a few notes from "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. (Before giving the closing blessing, he reminded all to "put a ring on it.")
The image above is from Rocco.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
But, I have to say, I have long thought "Charlotte was Both" was a great name for a blog -- and I'm sad for that moniker's end. In case you forgot the inspiration:
It is not often that someone comes along who is both a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.
(E. B. White, the conclusion of "Charlotte’s Web.")
Monday, March 02, 2009
The photo above is from here.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
In his homily, Cardinal Roger Mahoney observed that Mark wrote "the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert" as opposed to the other Gospel writers Matthew and Luke who wrote "the Spirit led Jesus into the desert."
"This is a radical difference," Cardinal Mahoney said, adding that we, too, sometimes are "driven" and sometimes are "led" by the Holy Spirit into our 40-day observances of Lent. With the economic crisis, said the cardinal, Lent 2009 may seem like one into which we are being "driven."
The painting above is by Ivan Kramskoi (1837 - 1887). Hat-tip: Dr. Maureen Tilley